Western Washington University has canceled its March 21 winter commencement because of coronavirus concerns, officials at the Bellingham campus announced Friday.

Students scheduled to graduate at the conclusion of winter quarter, which ends March 20, will be incorporated into larger June commencement ceremonies, officials said.

Administrators added that other “large-scale events” scheduled for the next three weeks also are likely to be canceled.

Western, home to about 16,000 students, remained open as scheduled Friday and has no plans to cancel in-person classes, Melynda Huskey, vice president for enrollment and student services, said in a statement.

“We are closely monitoring the evolving situation at other campuses in the region, including the University of Washington and Everett Community College,” she said in the statement. “Whatcom County does not have any confirmed cases as of this writing, and we do not plan to cancel classes or suspend operations at this time.”

The university is leaving it to faculty and students to determine “how best to complete the remaining week of instruction and provide final exams in Winter Quarter, including via online options,” Huskey said.


Finals week at Western is March 16-20.

Campus faculty and administrators have been working on a contingency plan to move all instruction online, similar to efforts now underway at the University of Washington and Seattle University, which announced in-person class closures earlier Friday.

While no positive cases have yet been reported in Bellingham or Whatcom County, more than three-fourths of Western’s student population is based in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, and travel between the campus and the Seattle metro area is frequent.

Attendance in courses this week has been notably down, some faculty members told The Seattle Times.

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